Cairo Santos

Jets Sign K Cairo Santos

The Jets have announced the signing of free agent kicker Cairo Santos. It’s a one-year deal, per Adam Schefter of (Twitter link).

Gang Green is seeking to replace Chandler Catanzaro, who signed with the Buccaneers on Wednesday. Catanzaro received $9.75MM over three years from Tampa Bay, so the Jets have found a decidedly cheaper option.

Santos was the Chiefs’ kicker for three seasons, but an injury during pregame warmups before a game against the Chargers led to Santos’ Kansas City exit. The Brazilian specialist finished last season with the Bears, kicking in three games. The 26-year-old kicker made 31 of his 35 field goal tries during his last full slate with the Chiefs in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Likely To Sign K Cairo Santos

The Jets are meeting with kicker Cairo Santos, according to Jason La Canfora of (on Twitter). Santos was PFR’s No. 7 ranked kicker heading into free agency, behind last year’s Jets kicker, Chandler Catanzaro.

Catanzaro has agreed to sign with the Bucs on a three-year deal worth $9.75MM, leaving the Jets with a void at kicker.

Santos was the Chiefs’ kicker for three seasons, but an injury during pregame warmups before a game against the Chargers led to Santos’ Kansas City exit. The Brazilian specialist finished last season with the Bears, kicking in three games. The 26-year-old kicker made 31 of his 35 field goal tries during his last full slate with the Chiefs in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

Bears Place Cairo Santos On IR, Expected To Sign Mike Nugent

Chicago has already gone through two kickers this season and will now add one more to the list in Week 14. The team has placed current kicker Cairo Santos on injured reserve thanks to a groin injury, reports Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Biggs adds in another tweet that the Bears are expected to replace him with veteran Mike Nugent.


Santos, 26, was signed by the team two weeks ago to replace Connor Barth. In that time, the former Kansas City placekicker converted just one of his two field goal tries to make him 4-5 on the year if you include his first three games of the season as a member of the Chiefs.

The 26-year-old had a decent three-year run in Kansas City before he was eventually replaced by Harrison Butker when Santos consequently suffered another groin injury earlier in the season.

In Nugent, Chicago brings in a kicker with a lot of experience. The 35-year-old is now playing in his 14th year in the NFL after most recently filling in for Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey for four games while Bailey was recovering from an injury of his own. However, Nugent was not steady during his short stint with Dallas, as he missed three of the seven kicks he tried. In his career, Nugent has converted just over 80% of his field goals, with his longest make coming from 55 yards out.

Chicago has not seemed to be able to get their kicking game right since the team moved on from its long-time kicker Robbie Gould after the 2015-16 season. They’ll likely be looking for a new full-time option to lock down the spot as they head into the offseason in a few weeks.


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Sign K Cairo Santos

The Bears are signing free agent kicker Cairo Santos, a source tells Ian Rapoport of (Twitter link). Of course, with Santos in Chicago, Connor Barth is out of a job. Cairo Santos (Vertical)

Santos met with both the Bears and Bucs recent weeks. When he visited with the Bucs, he was not yet healthy enough to resume playing. When the Bears met with him, he still had a bit to go in rehab and the inconsistent Barth was coming off of a strong performance. Now that Santos is healthy and Barth has faltered again by missing a game-tying field goal in Sunday’s loss to the Lions, the timing was right for a change.

Santos spent his entire career with the Chiefs until a groin injury slowed him this year, causing the team to cut him in September. Before his release, he converted 3-of-3 field goal tries this season and went 6-for-6 on extra points. Last year, he nailed 31 of 35 field goal tries, good for fifth in the league amongst kickers (88.6%).

Next up for Santos and the Bears is a tough road matchup against the red-hot Eagles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Meet With K Cairo Santos

The Bears met with Cairo Santos on Thursday and gave him a physical, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. As of this writing, the Bears have not signed Santos to a deal, but it is a sign that they are at least mulling a kicking change. Cairo Santos (Vertical)

Connor Barth is coming off of a strong performance in which he sank field goal attempts from 45, 44, and 49 yards in a rainy game against the Packers. However, he has been inconsistent overall this season. All in all, Barth has missed four of his 14 field goal tries, though three of those attempts were from 40-49 yards out and one was from further than 50 yards.

Santos has been on the market since being waived/injured by the Chiefs in late September. The Buccaneers reportedly wanted to sign him in October, but he was not healthy enough to play at that time.

Before getting cut loose, he converted 3-of-3 field goal tries and went 6-for-6 on extra points. He also had ten touchbacks on his 18 kickoffs. Last year, the 26-year-old sank 31 of 35 field goal tries, good for fifth in the league amongst kickers (88.6%).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Packers, Vikings, Bucs, Cardinals

Davante Adams remarkably scored two touchdowns for the Packers just 10 days after taking a violent hit from Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan, and it’s clear that Adams is in line to become Green Bay’s No. 1 wideout at some point, opines Rob Demovsky of Of course, that would first entail the Packers extending the 24-year-old Adams, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next spring. While Green Bay could hypothetically deploy the franchise tag on Adams, the club is unlikely to invest $16MM+ on a single pass-catcher given the investment it already has is Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. A new deal for Adams, who managed 997 yards and 12 touchdowns a season ago, could potentially top $10MM annually.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • The Vikings‘ head trainer says quarterback Sam Bradford is not dealing with a new injury to his knee, but does have “wear and tear” on his left knee, which has undergone two ACL operations, as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes. Bradford returned Monday night following a three-week absence, but couldn’t make it through the first half before experiencing an issue with his knee. Minnesota didn’t offer any timeline on Bradford’s return, meaning Case Keenum (and possibly the returning Teddy Bridgewater) will be under center for the time being.
  • Stevan Ridley, who spent four days on the Vikings‘ roster last week, is staying in the Minneapolis area as there is a possibility he’ll be re-signed to the club’s active roster, Tomasson reports in a separate piece. The Vikings are currently carrying only Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon at running back, although fullback C.J. Ham can also handle tailback duties. Ridley, 28, handled only three carries during the 2016 campaign.
  • The Buccaneers selected Patrick Murray as their new kicker on Monday, but the club reportedly prefers former Chief Cairo Santos among the available free agents, according to Roy Cummings of FanRag Sports (Twitter link). Santos was in Tampa Bay yesterday to take a physical, but he’s roughly two weeks away from full health. The Buccaneers, then, could theoretically give Murray something of a two-week tryout before circling back to Santos if Murray fails. Murray, Santos, Andrew Franks, Josh Lambo, and Mike Nugent were all in consideration to replace the struggling Nick Folk as Tampa’s kicker.
  • Before signing Justin Drescher to replace the injured Aaron Brewer, the Cardinals worked out four other long snappers, tweets veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer. Andrew East, Colin Holba, Jeff Overbaugh, and Drew Williams all auditioned for Arizona before the Cardinals went with Drescher. General manager Steve Keim & Co. appear to have gone with experience, as Drescher was the only member of the group who had appeared in an NFL game. Drescher, 29, played in 16 games per season for the Saints from 2011-16.

Buccaneers To Meet With K Cairo Santos

The Buccaneers plan to meet with free agent kicker Cairo Santos and give him a physical, according to Adam Schefter of (Twitter link). Santos, whom the Chiefs waived with an injury designation at the end of last month, is roughly two weeks away from full health, per Schefter.Cairo Santos (Vertical)

Tampa Bay is unsurprisingly auditioned kickers following incumbent Nick Folk‘s dreadful performance against the Patriots on Thursday night. Folk missed three field goals in a game the Buccaneers ultimately lost by five points, so Tampa Bay will take a look at Andrew Franks, Josh Lambo, and Mike Nugent on Monday.

Santos, 25, is arguably a better kicker than any of those three options, as he holds the highest career conversion rate at 84.8%. Last season, Santos posted the best season of his three-plus year NFL tenure, as he made 88.6% of his field goals, including two from 50+ yards. He did miss three extra point attempts, however.

It’s not out of the question that the Buccaneers stick with Folk for the time being, and that could be especially true if they’re specifically eyeing Santos. Tampa Bay could wait for Santos to get healthy, and then reevaluate Folk’s performance and its kicking situation as a whole.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Waive Cairo Santos

Cairo Santos sustained a groin injury during his last warmup kick against the Chargers this weekend. It may well end up being his final kick as a Chief.

The Chiefs waived Santos with an injury designation on Saturday, the team announced. He is expected to be healthy later this season, per Ian Rapoport of (on Twitter), so the fourth-year kicker will now be able to land with another team. The Chiefs placed Santos on IR earlier this week, clearing the way for their claim of rookie Harrison Butker off the Panthers’ practice squad.

Santos served as Kansas City’s kicker since the start of the 2014 season, when he beat out Ryan Succop in training camp. A Brazil native, Santos made a career-best 88 percent of his kicks last season (31 of 35) and has kicked in every game since the start of the ’14 campaign.

Butker did not beat out Graham Gano for Carolina’s kicking job out of camp, but the Panthers used a seventh-round pick on the Georgia Tech product. It looks like the Chiefs will be turning to Butker for the time being.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Browns, Santos, Bills, Ravens

Barely a month after Danny Shelton sustained a knee injury, the Browns defensive tackle suffered a calf malady during practice Wednesday. The team acknowledged it could be serious, per Mary Kay Cabot of (on Twitter), but also maintains hope the setback could also be minor. Hue Jackson referred to the occurrence as “unfortunate.” This came on a non-contact play, and Cabot notes (via Twitter) Shelton already underwent an MRI. Shelton encountered knee trouble during training camp but returned in time for the regular season. The 2015 first-round pick became a breakout player for the Browns last season. The former Washington defensive tackle has not missed a game during his NFL career. Rookie third-rounder Larry Ogunjobi would be in line to see more time if Shelton ended up missing action.

Here’s the latest from the AFC, continuing with some better news out of northeast Ohio.

  • Myles Garrett returned to Browns practice Thursday, working out with the team for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain just before the season’s outset. Jackson said on Wednesday the No. 1 overall pick might not see a full starter’s workload even if he is ready to play Sunday. The Browns are exercising caution with their top offseason investment, a player who’s struggled with ankle trouble since his junior year at Texas A&M. “He’s a huge piece of our organization, our future, so we want to be cautious but smart as we go through it,” the second-year coach said, via Pat McManamon of
  • The Chiefs will consider making Cairo Santos one of their IR-boomerang players, Andy Reid said, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). Santos ventured to IR earlier this week after injuring his right groin during warmups Sunday in Los Angeles. Kansas City signed rookie Harrison Butker off the Panthers’ practice squad. A Santos re-emergence could get tricky, however. The Chiefs are likely planning to bring slot corner Steven Nelson off IR by Week 9, and teams can only pull two players off the injury list in a season. So it’s not certain Santos will get to continue kicking until next season.
  • Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson also ran into trouble during practice this week, suffering a groin injury Thursday, Mike Rodak of reports. A starter after missing most of his rookie season due to injury, Lawson has two sacks thus far. The recently signed Ryan Davis may be Buffalo’s top option if Lawson can’t play in Week 4.
  • Brent Urban‘s season-ending Lisfranc injury could conclude his time with the Ravens, with Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun writing the team will want to see if recent third-round picks Chris Wormley and Bronson Kaufusi are going to be worthy contributors. (Neither has played an NFL down.) However, Zreibec also notes Urban’s injury history — by the end of this season the former fourth-round pick will have played just 25 of 64 possible regular-season games with the Ravens — could make him a candidate to stay and rebuild his free agent stock. Urban started all three Ravens games this season, the first three starts of his career.